All Eyes on Channel 18

    Illustrations by Yuiko Sugino/Guardian

    ON CAMPUS — After a year of nothing but static — interrupted by five lonely installments of “Koala TV” from the Joose-scattered Student-Run Television office — a team of film enthusiasts are forging their way back onto the airwaves this week. They may be momentarily buzzed on the grand-reopening vibes and one long winter break’s worth of pipe dreams, but the SRTV crew will need a ballsier, more diverse staff to become the campus powerhouse it has the potential to be.

    Prior to this week’s relaunch, the A.S. Council — which funds SRTV like a student organization, with student fees — decided that the SRTV production staff should be held accountable for the past year of crackly screen snowstorms. A.S. President Utsav Gupta and a small board of fellow councilmembers re-opened the managerial positions at SRTV. They interviewed standing general managers Ali Hadian and Thomas Dadourian — yes, the same winning duo under whom SRTV has stagnated all this time — and a handful of new applicants.

    In the end, they decided to rehire Hadian and Dadourian. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the channel is destined to fail. Three years after moving to a different filming area and receiving double its budget from A.S. Council, SRTV finally has the high quality equipment necessary to offer more than the occasional hour of “Koala TV.”

    Beginning next week, the A.S. service is set to air “Will It Chop?” — based on thrash-happy Internet sensation “Will It Blend?” — and “Cooking with Dr. D,” a show on cooking to de-stress. While that’s a good (if ridiculously dorky) start, SRTV must strive to be a realistic reflection of the college demographic and their entertainment desires.

    Even if they’re not filming it themselves, the managers’ goal should be to air material that draws in as many student viewers and contributors as possible — and not everyone wants to see if a keyboard can be hacked in half with a Japanese sword. Or at least not more than three times: Lord knows our campus channels have a tendency to loop.

    It takes more than some awkward Price Center flyers to recruit the kind of talent necessary to boost the station’s output in quantity and quality. (With only 11 members listed on its Web site, the staff isn’t large enough now to take on much more than a weekly cooking show and destruction-fest — and those too may slip from priority).

    SRTV could create an internship program to recruit visual-arts and film students to join its crew. In such a competitive job market, no one can have too much experience; an internship program (the less paid, the better!) could attract a slew of applicants.

    Another first step SRTV must take is to streamline its Web site. With links to a two-year-old forum, a schedule with no listings and a member roster from early 2008, it’s far from user-friendly. SRTV could take some tips from UC Berkeley’s CalTV Web site, which features both a weekly updated schedule and instant access to the station’s latest videos.

    Once SRTV debuts, posting its shows to the Internet would allow students to tune in more often, considering its current low profile.

    CalTV also covers daily investigative news, sports, comedy and music. Even better, UCLA airs Dorm Life, a massively popular channel that covers everything from hyperactive RAs to the weird theater kids down the hall.

    No one’s expecting SRTV to leap such great telecasting strides overnight, but inspiring outside student involvement could be the key to the creative floodgates. SRTV could also take some lessons from our own individual colleges’ TV channels: Marshall’s TMTV, Eleanor Roosevelt College’s ERCTV and Revelle’s RCTV are making themselves visible by posting on YouTube, vetting Facebook groups and updating a Twitter feed.

    It may be tempting to write off the latest Channel 18 relaunch as superficial after the A.S. Council rehired the same guys who couldn’t manage to air a thing for a year and half. But let’s make this for the students, by the students — not just a few kids with expensive cameras.

    Readers can contact Cheryl Hori at [email protected].

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